Canadian high school deploys state-of-the-art surveillance system

Toronto, Ontario – April 19th, 2010 – Prosper High School may yet have fewer than 1,000 students enrolled, but all over campus are signs it has prepared itself for many more: an indoor running track and practice field for football, a broadcast studio; even golf carts for staff to zoom around in — and some 293 video cameras and 21 digital video recorders to watch over it all. Welcome to the 21st-century high school.

"It’s more like a junior college than a traditional high school," marvels Gary Lamon of i3 International. The Toronto-based company supplied a digital video recording system to the school board serving the North Texas town of Prosper, whose very name is a prayer for the future.

High schools in growing areas can sprawl just as expansively as the budding neighbourhoods they serve. Prosper High School — completed just last summer and serving a rapidly growing town north of Dallas of about 2,100 citizens — represents a new size record in a state that tends to do things big: At 590,000 square feet and a reported cost of US$135-million, it is the largest school ever built via bond issue in the United States.

For many schools across North America, the state of the art in video surveillance is the contemporary answer, says Ted Ziolkowski, director of technology support services for the Prosper Independent School District.

"In the past, your monitors were teachers standing in the hallway. Today we have sophisticated security systems to assist us, and not necessarily because there’s some internal threat or because you’re protecting against vandalism, although those are added benefits," Ziolkowski says.

At least in the administrator’s neck of the woods, "every school now" has invested in eyes in the sky to watch over students, he says.

"Essentially it’s part of today’s landscape. You’re not going to build a campus without some form of camera security."

Prosper High School’s gargantuan square footage and projected student enrolment of 2,000 or more students is not really the issue, Ziolkowski says. A school needs security no matter how big or small it may be. "The primary objective is to keep staff and students safe, so it wouldn’t matter if it was just a barn," he says. "In today’s society we need to be ever-vigilant with the security and safety of our staff and students in light of recent events."

With that concern in mind, school board invested more than US$1-million on their security system offering high-resolution imagery, a large amount of storage – 21 HVR (Hybrid Video Recorders) units have been installed to date — and remote IP access, facilitating ease of use from a central location.

Notes Ziolkowski, "We don’t have a security staff. One guy can centrally manage all of this installation."

Integration and installation work was undertaken by Access Technology Systems of Carrollton, Texas, who in turn recommended i3 International as the equipment supplier.

"Vy came down and stood by his company and stood by his product, and worked with us and his party to work through problems," Ziolkowski says. "I’m all for giving the vendor a chance to make things right. They were willing to stand by their reputation and make it right. That’s what this company did. that’s what Vy did. I think that says a lot about them and who they are. I couldn’t be happier."

"Now that the security system is functioning as planned and classes are under way at Prosper High School, the school district could not be happier with the students, either," Ziolkowski says, given the relatively affluent demographics of Prosper, maintaining discipline has not challenged teachers and staff so far, and the i3 camera system is helping to keep it that way.

But as Access Technology Systems’ David Goldwin observes, "The kids are more well-behaved as a result of the high quality surveillance video technology."